Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1917, Supplement 1, The World War
File No. 710/6
The Ecuadoran Minister ( Elizalde) to the Secretary of State
Mr. Secretary of State: I have the honor of placing in your hands the circular note dated the 11th of September last, which the Chancellery of Ecuador addressed to the American Chancelleries, together with the memorandum to which this note refers.
I avail myself [etc.]
The Ecuadoran Minister for Foreign Affairs ( Tobar y Borgoño) to the Secretary of State
Most Excellent Sir: The various situations that have successively arisen in America as the result of the present war, have confirmed the Ecuadoran Chancellery in what has ever been its belief and aspiration: the union and solidarity of all the countries of the continent. To bring about that union and solidarity has been its wish since the beginning of the war and is also now when peoples of America are being swept into the great tempest.
God grant that it be possible to arrive at a Pan-American understanding under which our continent will present a strong united front to the world for the realization of the common ideals of our countries and the defense of the interests of all: that aspiration is voiced in the memorandum which I enclose in this note and of which I beg your excellency to take note.
I avail myself [etc.]
On November 20, 1914, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador referred to the Advisory Board of the Ministry, for its examination, the general question of neutrality and its maintenance. The Board, at its session of the 23d of that month, inspired with the ideas of Americanism and continental solidarity that have always been those of Ecuador, named as one of the most effective means of achieving that object that of having “the American governments declare that respect of the neutrality of every one of the American nations is the concern of all.” On December 8 that proposition was made known to the Governing Board of the Pan American Union by the Minister of Ecuador at Washington.
Ecuador has not since abated its zeal for an American union with the aim of safeguarding the rights and interests of the whole continent, and has found its inspiration therefor in the profound conviction that isolation could be but harmful to the various peoples of America, since their interests are common to all and hence the earnest desire to protect them must likewise be common to all, and since union and concord must necessarily prove highly fruitful to the continent in general and to each one of its peoples in particular.
The present war, which unfortunately has already extended its scourge to America, can not leave unconcerned the states which are still standing on the brink of the strife: common interests, sentiments of fraternal affection and sincere sympathy, bind the neutral [Page 343] American peoples to those who are already suffering the consequences of the conflict, on account of taking a position in keeping with what they deem necessary to maintain their dignity and defend their rights. Neutrality, though they observe it, may not prevent the first-named peoples from being led by their sympathies, born of the most genuine Americanism, to take a benevolent attitude toward American belligerents or American peoples who, though they have not reached the stage of belligerency, have assumed certain positions which they consider the best fitted to safeguard their national welfare, their own honor, and justice.
The countries most distant from the seat of war are suffering from the consequences of the struggle, their trade has endured hard blows: the present maintenance of the interchange of commodities and the guaranty of its future must prompt them to seek common means of defense since the threat is also a common one.
The Ecuadoran Chancellery thought that these interests in which the whole continent is concerned might be discussed by representatives of the whole continent in an American congress: no program was mapped out; none of the concrete points to be taken up was then made known. The object Ecuador had in mind was solely to let America come to an agreement on all that related to its interests and welfare; no topic foreign to that concept of purest Americanism was to be broached or included in the program. Problems of a domestic character, which unhappily divide some American countries, questions upon which all do not agree, were to be excluded. The contemplated congress had a special object, American concord in a situation in which the whole continent was concerned.
Grieved at seeing the plague of war spread to some of the countries on this side of the Atlantic, Ecuador had to reiterate its earnest desire that the most perfect Americanism should animate at this juncture the sister republics of the continent: in the note of April 23 the Legation of Brazil at Quito was told that Ecuador could not but feel sincere regret at seeing American countries with which Ecuador had close ties of interest, sympathy, and traditional and even solemn friendship, placed in a position where they considered it necessary to sever relations with the belligerents and even to join in the struggle, as the United States and Cuba had done. On June 27 the same statement was confirmed in reply to another note from Brazil which said that the highest spirit of Americanism animated that country.
The same spirit impelled the President of the Republic, on the 4th of July, to send an expressive telegram of congratulations to the President of the United States; it is also reflected in the Presidential message to the Congress of 1917, in which it is said that—
our relations with the other countries continue on the same footing [Page 344] of cordiality; we are adhering to neutrality but not without having brought about a most frank and open exchange of views with all the nations of the American Continent. We have manifested our sympathies and our faith on every occasion when justice demanded or the great principles of democratic rule, fundamental to these nations, required. America, then, will always find us with her. Ecuador is one of her daughters, and the Republic is her soul and life. We shall never fail to side with and give preference to that which our duty demands of us as democrats, republicans and sons of America.
If, then, such has been the Ecuadoran policy, there should be no occasion or reason for Ecuador to depart from it to-day; the Minister of Foreign Affairs so declared to the National Congress, and that body concurred in this view of affairs when it declared its satisfaction with the course followed by the Chancellery in this matter.
America will ever find Ecuador ready to join with the other American peoples for the defense and security of what appertains to the whole continent and of all that which may serve as a guaranty of the American common interests; but to do this effectively an agreement must be arrived at, America must be truly one, and the various international entities which make up America must act as one.
In his message of January 22 last to the Senate, President Wilson said that nations should avoid in the future entangling alliances whose result was competition for power, which would not come to pass when all united in following the same course, animated by the same purpose. If not all, why could not the nations of America at least reach an agreement which would unite them forever in common ideals of peace and defense? The Ecuadoran Chancellery thinks it can be done, since all were born to political and international life through the great and noble effort of their independence, all have struggled to make a reality of the principle of human equality and natural liberty, and all also strive as one to make the Government of the people by the people another tangible and permanent reality in the world.
In this manner only will the American peoples present to the world a strong front commanding respect, so that being strong and commanding respect they may be heard at the present hour and heeded in the future.